There are two ways to change a child custody order, either by way of agreement or by filing a petition (Request for Order) with the Court.
If you and your spouse agree, make sure to put the agreement in writing and file it with the court to ensure its enforceability.
However, if you and your ex-spouse disagree over the custody arrangements for your children, it is more complicated. Read this article to gain clarity.
To request a modification in your current child custody orders you must:
- Prepare a Request for Order
- File it with the court
- Serve the other party
- Attend Child Custody Recommending Counseling (CCRC)
- Appear at Court on your scheduled hearing date.
In these situations, it is important to consult with a child custody attorney who understands the process and can guide you through the necessary steps to achieve your goals.
GROUNDS FOR MODIFYING CHILD CUSTODY ORDERS
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the divorce/dispute, there are certain requirements that must be met to modify child custody orders.
You must show a “substantial change of circumstances.” This standard is high. You must show that the current situation has caused a “material change” in the child’s life that warrants a change in the current child custody orders.
Typically, the change must be in the child’s best interests. To modify child custody orders, you must present evidence that your circumstances have significantly changed.
Often, a parent’s substance abuse or employment issues can qualify for a child custody modification. Another compelling reason is when a parent’s actions or behavior endanger the child.
In addition to a change in circumstances, parents can petition for a modification of child custody orders if either party plan on moving or relocating outside of the county.
Sometimes the move is motivated by a change in job location or cheaper cost of living. New parents may find a more stable environment in a new town, state, or country.
FACTORS THAT MAY WARRANT A CHANGE IN CHILD CUSTODY ORDERS
- Work Schedules: What is the schedule of each parent?
- School Schedules: Will visits interfere with the children’s school? How far apart is the school from each parent’s house? Are they on time and present in school?
- Distance: How far apart do the parents live? How long does it take the children to get to school from each house?
- Violence: Is there any history of domestic violence? Are the children in danger because of some other situation?
- Drug/Alcohol Abuse: Are there any substance abuse issues?
- Abuse/Neglect: Is one of the parents a danger to the children? Is Child Protective Services involved?
- Mental Illness: Are there any mental health issues? Do the children have any special mental illness needs?
- Living Quarters: Do the parents have room for the children? Do the children have their own beds? Who is also living in the home?
- Alienation: Is one of the parents attempting to alienate the children against the other parent? Is one of the parents’ withholding visitation from the other parent? Is either parent discussing adult issues with the children?
- Desire: Is there a particular schedule the parents are seeking?
- Wishes of the children: Are the children old enough to have input into the schedule? Do the children want to live primarily with one parent?
- Stability: Can each parent provide a stable home?
- Comfort level: Are the children comfortable in both homes?
- Criminal History: Does either parent have a serious criminal history? Does anyone in the home pose a danger to the children?
CHANGING A CHILD CUSTODY ORDER WITHOUT A LAWYER
Changing a child custody order is not easy. In most cases where the parties agree, hiring an attorney is not necessary.
However, if you and your spouse disagree, make sure to consult with and hire the right attorney that will protect you in court.
If you’re wondering if changing a child custody order is worth the cost of a lawyer, you’re not alone. Hiring a lawyer can be stressful and scary.
They cost a lot of money and cannot guarantee you certain results. However, keep in mind that hiring the right attorney is worth the cost.
There are several factors you should consider when hiring a lawyer for your case:
- Level of Experience
- Geographical location
- Communication Style
- Comfort Level
- Knowledge of the Process
- Knowledge of the Courtroom and Judges
CHANGING A CHILD CUSTODY AGREEMENT WITHOUT GOING TO COURT
You can change a custody agreement without going to court if you are able to reach an agreement with the other party.
This is done without the court’s intervention or oversight. As long as both parties agree to the terms, the agreement is reduced to a writing, and the parties file the agreement with the court, you are protected.
Make sure to read the agreement in its entirety and make sure you understand the agreement fully.
CHILD SUPPORT AND HOW IS IT CALCULATED
Child support is money one parent pays to the other for the benefit of the children. Riverside Child Support Lawyers helps ensure the child will share in the lifestyle of both parents. By law, computer software calculates the amount of child support. Once the court calculates guideline child support, it has almost no discretion to vary from the guidelines. It must order that amount. Several factors influence the amount of child support. These include:
- The number of children
- Each parent’s tax filing status
- Each parent’s income
- The percentage of time each parent spends with the children
- Any allowable deductions
MODIFYING EXISTING CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS
You have already been to court. You have a judgment, but the orders are not working.
It may be possible to get a child support modification. Maybe child support is too low. Maybe you lost your job and can no longer afford to pay spousal support. Maybe the children want to come live with you.
Whenever you need to go back to court to change an order, it is called a child support modification. It is not always easy to change a court order. Hiring a skilled attorney that understands the law and actually listens to your story is key.
Changing a court order is not always easy. Not all court orders can be changed, and those that are modifiable require a “significant change of circumstances,” meaning that something new or different must have happened since the last court order.
Sometimes, going back to court makes matters worse. It could be that you are trying to lower your child support, but, after court, your support goes up.
It could be that you are trying to increase your time with the children, but, after court, you end up with less time.
Before requesting a child support modification, you should have an experienced attorney analyze your case to determine whether a modification is possible and whether you will benefit from one.
The last thing you want is to be is surprised when you go to court.
You can perform the calculations using the California Child Support Guidelines Calculator.
Download the User Guide learn how to fill out the information in the Child Support Calculator.
Keep in mind that your computation may only provide an estimate and may is subject to a significant change.
The amount of child support the judge directs you to pay may vary based on information from the other parent and other circumstances affecting child support and the outcome of the final custody order.
Read more about modification of child support
WHY CHOOSE FAMILY LAW MATTERS
So, having said all this, your first step should be to consult with an experienced family law attorney who has handled hundreds of child custody/support modifications and can better predict the outcome of the court order you are requesting.
A well-versed family law attorney in Riverside County can be worth the money, if you have no clear view on how things will turn out in court.
Finding your way through California’s legal system is a nightmare that you should not attempt to navigate on your own. Therefore you should consult with a family law attorney to know your rights and your options.
At Family Law Matters, a team of highly skilled and dedicated family law attorneys will work diligently on your case with a goal-oriented approach.
With more than 20 years of experience in the area of family law, you can avoid the legal stumbling blocks that the justice system can present and have a knowledgeable contact at your side who will protect you and your loved ones.
Family Law Matters has helped more than 10,000 clients just like you. So, rest assured, you are in good hands. Your team will keep you updated and protected at all times.
We take pride in our work, and we love what we do, so we’re only satisfied when you are.